Saturday Cup of Joe from Detroit


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Week 209 in Detroit or in a few rooms in a house in Detroit. The quarantine will begin a second month in our stay home protocol. Despite the disruption around this time last week, the fact is this week felt different. Uncertain, somewhat. Nerve-wracking, a little. Hopeful, yes. In fact, it went quickly. I’m not just saying that as one guy, I heard it from at least 3 conference call participants who said so, totally unprovoked, at the beginning of a call. So, it’s probably true.

What did you think?

Better yet, what do you think?

We look to leaders for information, expectation and guidance. We assume that leaders, especially political leaders, but also our companies’ leaders, have more information. More information leads to better decisions. We assume our leaders are making better decisions.

We assume our leaders are thinking about us. The idea, I sense, is that our leaders are telling us as much as is practical and safe. We assume we can trust those decisions.

We assume that leaders are not only supplied with more information and considering our mindset when communicating decisions, but that they should tell us what to do. The only way you can criticize a politician for making a “bad” decision is through implying they had a decision to make. We explicitly or implicitly assume we should be receiving guidance.

The tough part is that we think. We all think — one thing or another. What we do with what we think, how we then filter everything else we hear through what we think, and how we attribute motives to others, accordingly, is the thing. That’s what makes the difference.



Blame is what robs us of clarity.

Compassion is what robs us of relief.

The key is that compassion is not a substitute for justice, for fairness. Compassion does not overshadow. Compassion and toughness can co-exist.

Mindset. Perspective. I understand this is why we talk about so much about and hear so much about these things. They’re sneaky.

When I was a dorm parent and coach at a boarding school in Connecticut, I chaperoned a school dance. The Jesuit priest that lived on campus saw me at dinner and said, “I heard you are on the dance tonight. Keep an eye on the kids. They are sneaky and motivated.”

That’s how I feel about perspective and assumptions. In our own minds, these are sneaky and motivated.

So, I’m wondering, what do you think?

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Data in motion. Since I started writing Saturday Cup of Joe, I’ve always enjoyed interesting examples of data visualization. This is a movement chart of how Americans adopted technology over the last 120+ years.

Running water.



Cable TV.


Dishwashers, still only 70%.

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Follow on IG

Staying in? Yea, we all are. Doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the road trip. Here’s a slide show from mid-century America. Nostalgia and all.

To claim this moment as a revolution is to claim it for human action. The exciting thing about that quote and why I wanted to include it here is the vote for intention. Collective intention is impossible, relatively impossible, but “to claim” this moment is to claim any moment, every moment. When the author writes “Everything is up for grabs,” my instinct is to react “everything is always up for grabs.” We’re making the rules here.

We each have the ability to change the course of our lives, our everything.

I like it as a reminder. I use it as inspiration. For whatever reason change has always been invigorating. Recognizing it within organizations and within industries is one thing. Getting excited by uncertainty is another. Change, I hear, is intimidating. Yet, here we are. I didn’t understand it as clearly as I understand it now. And in classic Saturday Cup of Joe fashion, I can’t help but make it a big(ger) deal:

People sometimes imagine yesterday’s revolutions as planned and carried out by self-conscious revolutionaries, but this has rarely, if ever, been the case. Instead, revolutions are periods in which social actors with different agendas (peasants stealing rabbits, city dwellers sacking tollbooths, lawmakers writing a constitution, anxious Parisians looking for weapons at the Bastille Fortress) become fused into a more or less stable constellation. The most timeless and emancipatory lesson of the French Revolution is that people make history. Likewise, the actions we take and the choices we make today will shape both what future we get and what we remember of the past.

The actions we take and the choices we make today will shape both what future we get and what we remember of the past.

True as a country, true of each of us, today or any day. Crisis or not.

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Third week of drone shots. Follow @DetroitDroneShots on IG.

Breńe Brown recommends a simple tool when navigating personal relationships. Start your next sentence with “The story I’m telling myself is…” when making assumptions about something your partner did or did not do.

When it comes to our own careers, we do not employ the same tool. Instead of releasing the assumptions we hold onto, we tend to lean into game theory. Playing and replaying scenarios where everyone else is out to get us, to limit us. The feeling that we cannot take control of our own career.

In fact, we can.

We can craft our current role into our future role, without even asking for a new one.

The Harvard Business Review research talks about job crafting. (Hat tip to Bob Nedwicki for the recommendation on this one.) Be intentional.

3 steps or questions:

1. What are my unique combination of skills and experience?

2. What would happen if I stopped coming to work?

3. How is my contribution aligning my company’s goals and my professional goals?

Using the answers help create distance in the form of objectivity. Objectivity means being able to craft the best strategy. Career crafting.

This week, another article caught my attention, this one about mindset. I find the lists of things I should know about mindset equal parts annoying and annoyingly useful. Reminders. I’ve written about reminders and I think the lists are so popular because each reader takes away something different.

For example, the 25 Useful Thinking Tools. 25 is too many. But a couple, a handful, is a reminder. It’s about connecting with the material.

Here were my reminders:

1. Experimental approach is the key concept. Be active and nimble. Chase what works.

2. What’s the smallest way I can test this theory? Low(est) risk tests of ideas are the best way to learn real lessons that lead to success.

3. Live in the future.

4. Put yourself in someone else’s mindset. Understand how others view you (or your idea) and how others view themselves (or their ideas).

Ok, 25 useful tools is too many to be useful.

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How about 5 key traits of socially intelligent people? And…wait for it…mnemonic device!


1. Situational awareness

2. Presence

3. Authenticity

4. Clarity

5. Empathy

Are reminders helpful?

Burger King inspiring creative free guerrilla marketing that actually works but deep-diving old tweets. Including it here to spark new ideas that follow suit: unexpected approach, using existing resources, and creating value. That’s innovation.

Quote: Keep going until you are proud.

Bonus content: 2010s ugliest cars, in the opinion of Motor Trend. Of course, no one is perfect. The 2019 Chevy Camaro SS was an unlikely addition to this list but that’s just my opinion.

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Continued success and continue to answer well,

Written by

Thinker, curious leader, once an attorney…always trying to answer well.

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